Ice & Snow Removal

The holidays are here, which means winter wonderlands, roaring fires and good cheer. 'Tis also the season for icy driveways and walks and potential fire hazards, among other possible holiday safety issues. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the season. By taking the necessary precautions and following some holiday safety guidelines, you can keep your home and family safe while you deck the halls.

Visit your local Cole's Hardware store for the tools, products and expert advice you need to have a safe and happy holiday. Then follow the tips below.

Clear Driveways and Walkways
Concrete driveways and walkways can become treacherous for your family and guests when snow and ice build up on them. It's an easy fix though; be proactive and you'll have no problems.

Step 1. Start Shoveling ASAP
The longer you leave snow and ice on your driveway and walkway, the harder it will be to remove. With heavy snowfall, it pays to go out and start shoveling even as the snow is still falling to clear off as much snow as possible. Make sure you have a good-quality, lightweight snow shovel. Metal shovels are easiest to use and have less chance of breaking. Remove snow from the driveway and all walkways needed for access to and from your house.

Helpful Tip: Don't forget to shovel out around your mailbox, garbage cans and other areas to which you'll need access.

Shovel snow toward where you'll be piling it so that you'll have less distance to toss it as you start to wear down. Chip away any ice that you find under the snow and remove it with the shovel. Push snow out of the way when and where possible. Only pile on as much snow as you can handle on your shovel. Don't over do it and don't bend with your back — use your knees instead.

Safety Alert!
Shoveling snow and removing ice can be tiring, hard work. Be careful, especially if you are not physically fit. If you have medical or health issues such as a heart condition, you should check with your doctor first before doing this kind of work. Be sure to stay hydrated; as with exercising, drinking plenty of water is a necessity when shoveling.

Remember to dress appropriately by wearing layers. As you work, you'll warm up and shedding a layer will make work easier and more comfortable if it is needed. Wear work gloves and snow boots as well.

Keep in mind that you're not in a race. You don't need to finish the job in one long, cold shoveling session. It's best to work for 30 to 45 minutes and then go inside to warm up and rest for an hour or so. Then when you're feeling up to it, head back out.

Step 2. Melt the Ice
Snow isn't necessarily your biggest problem. If the snow melts a bit and then re-freezes or if it sleets before snow falls, you can have a thin layer of ice coating everything. This layer of ice is what causes many serious accidents along walkways and driveways such as slipping and falling. It's hard to see and thus many people don't think about it until it's too late.

To remove ice before or after you've shoveled, spread melting compounds across all of your concrete surfaces that are covered in ice. Rock salt (sodium chloride) is the most commonly used "de-icer". It is effective when temperatures are in the 20s, such as after a snow storm. In areas where there is heavy ice and the air temperature is much, much colder, calcium chloride is most effective. It's best used in conjunction with a shovel or chisel. Calcium chloride eats away at the ice and melts it, making it easier to break up and shovel away. Both of these compounds must be used sparingly as neither is great for concrete or sewer drains. It is recommended that you keep these off of new concrete or brick walkways altogether.

Helpful Tip: Don't forget to let nature help you out when possible. During the day when the sun is back out, let it do some of the work for you by melting away the sheets of solid ice that may have formed. Spread sand on top of the ice. Once the sun's rays have been battering the ice for a few hours, it will heat up the sand and start melting it away. Then it's a good time to try and break it up and shovel it off.

If you're worried that salt or calcium chloride might damage the material that makes up your driveway or walkway surface, there is a wide range of de-icing chemicals that you can use. Some are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Liquid alcohol can be used to melt ice as well. Natural de-icing pellets can be used instead of salt or fertilizer (yes, some people use it to melt ice too). The natural pellets melt ice without contaminating water and damaging soil and plant life. Kitty litter and fine gravel can be used as a source of traction on top of an ice-slicked surface.

Pay close attention to stairways. In fact, it's best to preempt icy conditions; consider applying de-icing products or sand (at least) to your steps before a snow.

That's it! By taking some simple but necessary safety precautions you can assure that your family and your guests will have a safe and happy holiday. For all your holiday home project needs, head to your local Cole's Hardware store for the tools, products and expert advice you need to start right. Season's greetings!

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Shopping List

  • Snow shovel
  • Appropriate attire
  • Gloves
  • Ice melt
  • Chisel
  • Scraper